From Passive to Active Audiences


‘Likes’ have become table stakes for marketers leveraging social media channels. The ‘like’ has become the bare minimum for showing success. It’s a low threshold action that represents literally the bare minimum someone can do when they approve of a piece of content other than nothing. Marketers should want more.

Recruitment has been the name of the game for brands over the past few years as they worked to build a network of followers. Why? They didn’t necessarily know, but in an effort to prove the value of social media to the CMO, the number of ‘likes,’ followers and subscribers was the quickest way to show value on a scorecard. Now, marketers are starting to shift their focus to getting those they recruited to do more in the form of sharing.

The time for greater sophistication is here, and it means a shift in how businesses expect to leverage their subscribers.

From Passive to Active

‘Liking’ a piece of content is largely a passive action. It’s the equivalent to watching an ad on TV, smirking and telling your coworker about the ad in passing. That’s okay, but it could certainly be better.

‘Sharing’ is much more active and is the equivalent of seeing an ad or other piece of content and broadcasting it to their social networks with their POV, such as “This is hilarious,” “I love these guys” or “You should check this out.” The consumer first takes the step of distributing a piece of content but then also adds the extra step of contextualizing it for his or her social networks.

A consumer taking an active action allows marketers to use the audience they’ve recruited to scale their social media efforts. An active, forward-leaning audience is more valuable than a lean-back passive audience because they add value to the marketers message. Marketers are coming to realize this, and social networks like Facebook already have. They prioritize content that’s shared over content that’s ‘liked’ in the News Feed algorithm.

Cultivating an Active Base

All content is not share-worthy let alone like-worthy, so marketers shouldn’t hope to have all content suddenly start getting shared. However, marketers can do more to increase the likelihood.

Encouraging an active base means thinking not only about your base in the content you produce but their social connections as well. In order for someone to share, the original piece of content should communicate something about them or position them as delivering something valuable to their social connections, such as a cause. Second, ask people to share while also explaining why they should want to. Giving the command isn’t enough. If the value of sharing isn’t apparent to them, explain it.